Sgt. Paul DoutePhil Costantino
Bernie, Ralph and Sgt. Mac
Bernie and Ralph and Mac were injured in a gas explosion. If my memory serves me right we had cleared a lot of brush out near the RTT rig and it was in a big pile. The 1st SGT came by while those three were on duty at the rig and told them to burn the brush pile. Sgt Mac's team, Bernie and Ralph, were assigned to burn the brush. They didn't have any fuel oil so they decided to use Gasoline. The story goes that they used a whole 5 Gal can on the brush pile and made a torch (like we were using to burn the red ants) The gas fumes were kinda spread out along the ground because of the humidity. I think Ralph had just climbed off the pile and started walking away from the brush toward the rig. Bernie was still on the pile of wood pouring gas when one of them maybe Ralph tried to use his lighter to start the torch to throw back on the brush. Or while we were talking, Mac went to light his cigarette with his Zippo and with that spark, the air just caught fire for a few seconds. I was looking right through the flames. Miraculously, the flames didn't cross the concertina wire, but seemed to end right in front of my face. and it burnt the uniform off Ralph's back. I was told that Ralph went into shock and walked off out toward the rubber trees out beyond the RTT rig. Not sure what happened to Mac, but we never heard any more about them or from them since.
We were there when the gas fumes exploded, I was on duty with the rig. Mitch and I were on Sgt. Doute’s team. I'm not sure where Sgt. Doute and Mitch were.
Bernie and Ralph were just finished pouring the gasoline on the pile of brush, and Sgt Mac and I were talking. He was about 6 feet away from me, we were separated by the concertina wire that was strung around the rig. walking back toward us and. Yes, they used gasoline because that was all we had and they didn't want to go find diesel fuel.
When the gas flamed up, Mac went down right away, and Ralph started screaming and running. I remember that I had to run around the rig to the opening of the concertina wire and past Mac so that I could tackle Ralph. Neither of us had shirts on, and I remember Ralph's skin coming off on my hands and chest and where ever I touched him. That's all I remember, but Ralph’s skin coming off on me, I'll never forget. The flame back where we were lasted about a second or two, but Bernie was still on the pile when it flamed up. I'm pretty sure Bernie was the worst of the three. ----from Phil Costantino
------and from Sgt. Paul Doute
Phil’s version gave me a jolt, too. More is coming back, I don't know if my memory loss of the incident is because of how long it's it's been or the horror of having 3 good friends injured for no reason.
I'm pretty sure I wasn't there, I remember the 1st Sgt (can't remember his name, Big African-American fellow)
editor’s note: Could the 1sg perhaps have been 1sg Muse? There is a Booker T. Muse listed on the roster?
came by and ordered us to burn the brush as soon as possible. I don't know if I left with him or to deliver a message but I do remember someone coming to get me and tell me about the explosion. Mitch might have been inside the rig I'm not sure.
I having a hard time keeping my eyes dry right now thinking about all this. My mind prefers to think of the good times.